The Universal Obsession With TikTok Challenges | Curiosity Shots

NOTE: this is the original of a piece I reworked/reposted here.

2016 marked the unimaginable. The start of the end — or the end — of the short film platform, Vine. In October of that same year, Twitter announced that starting the following January, Vine would put in place a permanent lock on users, preventing them from posting videos. Twitter’s decision to move away from the micro-video world ultimately led to the rise of a new platform, the (in)famous TikTok-then known as With this new platform came the rise of viral challenges.

TikTok and Vine weren’t identical services. Vine videos were limited to six seconds, a fraction of the sixty seconds clips supported by TikTok. More than that, TikTok created the seemingly impossible — virtual duets. In the age of COVID-19, this doesn’t seem like much. Back in 2017, however, it was revolutionary. Duet videos opened up an entirely new and untapped realm of social media interaction. TikTok launched this unique opportunity by enlisting Bruno Mars and his fans to market the feature for them. The debut of this feature was simple:

Encourage fans to duet with Mars and post the video on TikTok. Share it across social media channels with the hashtag #dancewithBruno (and TikTok’s watermark).

TikTok: It Was Written In The Stars

Each video, although connected by the unifying trend, was divided by necessity. Some challengers used YouTube Doubler or similar tools to superimpose the original video next to their own; many chose not to, however. As a result, such video responses had an isolating air about them. TikTok capitalized on the authenticity and impracticality of the shared experience. Their implementation of the duet feature not only streamlined how to find and respond to a challenge but also displayed who the user was responding to.


Additionally, the ability to duet has created a unique capacity for community building, meaningful interactions, and support. In recent years, activists, survivors, and users alike have created their own trends on TikTok. Those who use this feature have been able to destigmatize mental health issues, raise awareness on women’s safety, and troll the Trump campaign. While this has given space and opportunity to those inclined to share their stories and advice, the duet feature has also motivated others to join in. The option of having others uplifting their words has been a confidence booster for those too anxious to post themselves solo.

TikTok Challenges

It’s hard to gauge whether these recent large scale and diverse digital conversations would have happened without TikTok, or more specifically without this feature. However, it is safe to say that this feature enabled users to feel and create more authentic and interactive connections. This development directly initiated the possibility for a digitized community; one that encourages authentic bonds.

Originally published at on October 8, 2020.

🌎 🌱 Image credit: Alice Butenko (@alivka)